passed over to a broken machine

A review of Mental Furniture by Claire Potter, published by 3am Mag and Mute Mag. 


Faced with trauma, language’s impoverishment is exposed. Other emotional experiences – love, anger, depression, hunger, or even desire, that infest the body with unfamiliarity, find explication through writing. They begin with a want, so find satiation in language, or at the very least, a sense of control. Faced with trauma, language is depleted into inarticulacy, a muted mess of choked words and insubstantial descriptions. Etymology is useful here: trauma, a physical wound, hurt or defeat, extends from its root, from *trau- to *tere, to turn, twist, pierce or throw. It suggests movement. But language, so dependent upon a stable ground, with rules, directional movement and ends, is unprepared for the sensation of free-fall, of groundlessness, that trauma enacts upon it. 

Claire Potter’s Mental Furniture takes language and performs upon it its own failings of …

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Shrinking Studies: A Cultural History of Shrinking

Research paper from Shrinking Studies: A Cultural History of Shrinking, CASS Institute of Art


New York World Fair, 1964, Walt Disney shrinks the world. In true Disney sentiment, trading on his association with childhood and children as ‘futurific engrams, time machines that might be programmed in the present’, he presents 300 brightly coloured and beaming audio-animatronic dolls, dressed to represent every child of the world at play upon a unified global platform and singing the ride’s iconic theme song, It’s a Small World, (After All). Still in the fall-out of the Cuban Missile Crisis and representing UNICEF, the performance assumed the appearance of world peace, circulating visitors on a boat ride around the different regions of the globe, with each doll-child singing in their native language and, supported by Pepsi, even the drink was offered as some sort of global elixir of peace. The attraction was a huge success, …

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My Own Mag

Jeff Nuttall’s My Own Mag

On 15th November 1963, Jeff Nuttall’s hands, still sticky from fixer, removed the first run of My Own Mag from the mouth of the mimeograph machine. 

‘Rest your shattered face in this. Keep on knockin’ butcha can’t come in. No re-admittance after birth time.’

A hand drawn arrow points to the base of a scribbled vagina that straddles the page, “Exit only” in type. The rest of the words run through scrawled fallopian tubes that look more like bowels. Above, ‘My Own Mag, A Super Absorbant Periodical,’ in crass, infantile writing. ‘Produced by Homosap Inc’ and then an address, his home. 

will appear every now and then…will be devoted to creations of unparalleled nobility…morals of unquestionable soundness. high literary standards of traditional finesse. NO dirty pitchers. 

The words fall down the page, dropping off the base of the one pence sign that sit by the …

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Smirk Happy

Smirk Happy – A text to accompany ‘Besides’ Exhibition, Five Years Gallery

The smile in situ is uneasy, as is the smirk.

In the days of traditional portraiture, sitters desired to be depicted closed-mouth, ‘serious’, which implied ‘old money’. The revealed tooth, or gait; the grin, or appearance of good humour was a sign of poverty, foolishness: those content to be considered dumb. Across aristocratic or bourgeois society, the facade was made serious. It was a time of image-certainty. It was a time in which the portrait as record became portrait as moral truth, setting the grin far from formalised ideal, and deeming it unfashionable. 

But the smile made a come-back. The contemporary grin has developed its own rich and complex history, equipped with a multitude of adaptations, disrupting the linear understanding of the portrait. Re-familiarise yourself, and the smile could mean:



The smile …

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Body as Island

Text to accompany Susanna Davies-Crook’s exhibition Star Chamber at Enclave Gallery, London. 

Imagine the body is an island. Where is your horizon?


Loitering in the distance, the Island, as we have come to mythologise it, is an archaeology of conceptions. It is a gross conflation of its literal and littoral* definition. To break this down: īeg (split from its base meaning of watery/water) + land = a watered land. Its voluptuous presence on the horizon leaves it exposed as ‘other’ – an ideal platform upon which to house the volatile elixir of human desire. The Island, objectified by its definition as a thing apart, as other, becomes the existence of the embodied possible. But this is an inherently unstable relationship: the Island orients dreaming bodies towards the horizon it exists upon, all whilst being supported by a flowing stream of their passions and weaknesses. It is a fluid dynamic …

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